Genesis 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5
Sometimes miracles can stand in the way of faith. The Gospels are replete with stories of large numbers of people attracted to Jesus because of the miracles, the extraordinary wonders he worked for individuals as well groups of people. Many people had the expectation that they too would get something out of being physically close to Jesus. But they eventually realized that the miracles were only a sign of the Reign of God which Jesus announced. To actually be in the Kingdom of God required much more and was not a magic show of good things happening to the well deserving. There would be a cost and the need for an inner transformation that would not always be easy.
The Reign of God is a call to be in close relationship with Jesus; to see all creation and especially people as God sees them. It is a call to participate in the work, ministry, of Jesus to bring about the fullness of each human person. To participate in this work requires much sacrifice and personal self-giving and necessitates great trust that the work will ultimately be fruitful and bring others, also into that relationship, that faith, in Jesus. In the Gospels, many people, even most people, turned away after witnessing those acts of God’s power because "What’s in it for me?" became "What am I willing to freely give to follow Jesus?" And too often, the answer was "nothing".
We are the disciples of today and we too are given the mandate by Jesus to help in bringing to fullness the Reign of God. We are to pass on what we have been given. But the "miracles" we are empowered to work may be different in nature, but not in substance, from those of the disciples as reported in the Gospel. Accepting and affirming those who are the cast offs of society; including rather than shutting out those who seemingly do not belong; taking joy and delight in the innocence and spontaneity of children; willingly being present to the elderly despite their limitations — these are signs of the Reign of God, a continuation of the miraculous presence of Jesus in our world today. These are the miracles that are not misunderstood as magic but are truly our faith commitment to live in relationship to Jesus Christ.
Cathy Anthony ([email protected]) is on the staff at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.